<
>

Donaire eyes return at junior featherweight

Former four-division titleholder Nonito Donaire had some success as a featherweight, knocking out Vic Darchinyan for the second time in 2013 and then winning a world title by fifth-round technical decision against Simpiwe Vetyeka in May.

But the 2012 fighter of the year also suffered a rough sixth-round knockout loss to Nicholas Walters on Oct. 18, who dropped him twice and took his world title.

But now Donaire (33-3, 21 KOs), who has won world titles at flyweight, bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight (plus an interim belt at junior bantamweight) is thinking about his return to the ring. Manager Cameron Dunkin told ESPN.com on Monday night that Donaire will return to junior featherweight for his comeback, which likely will take place in May on one of Top Rank’s cards in Macau.

Dunkin said he has talked to Top Rank’s Bob Arum and Rachel Donaire, Nonito’s wife, who is closely involved in his career, about the plan.

“That’s what we are trying to do and he’s going to fight at 122,” Dunkin said. “We’ve talked about it but don’t know who we are going to fight yet. But Nonito wants to fight and we’ll get him fighting again. He knows he can’t fight at that weight [126 pounds]. He can beat a lot of featherweights, don’t get me wrong. But he’s used to beating everyone and being the best. He’s going back to 122 where he can do that.”

The 32-year-old “Filipino Flash” had some success against Walters, including nearly dropping him with a huge left hook late in the second round. It was the kind of punch Donaire used to knock smaller out opponents with. Walters, however, is a big, strong featherweight and took the shot.

“Nonito was one punch away from winning that fight in the second round,” Dunkin said. “We had talked about it before the fight for a long time about moving up in weight all the time. I was against it. Those guys are so big, but he said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.' And he did. He won some fights at 126, but he didn’t look like the Nonito we were used to. After [the Walters fight] was over, he said, ‘You’re right, I can’t fight these guys at 126. They’re just too big.’ So he’ll go back down to 122 and become a champion again. He’s not done and he has a lot of pride.”